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  • U.K. Department for Transport

UK, US to work together to reduce aviation emissions, accelerate SAF development

The U.K. Transport Secretary Mark Harper was set to meet with his counterparts from the U.S., Canada and Singapore May 15 as they work to decarbonize flight and usher in a new era of sustainable travel.

Meeting with the U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg on a visit to the United States, the pair planned to discuss how to work together on reducing aviation emissions and share knowledge to accelerate the development of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF)—tackling climate change and harnessing the potential of the SAF industry to grow the economy.

“While an ocean separates us, we’ve never been more aligned with the U.S. on the future of aviation and what that entails—whether it’s boosting jobs, opening new trade opportunities or delivering guilt-free air travel,” Harper said. “This trip is a crucial part of our work to reduce emissions from aviation alongside the U.S., Canada and Singapore, and I look forward to meeting my counterparts and industry representatives.”

During his visit, Harper co-chaired the SAF Investor Summit in Detroit with his U.S. and Canadian counterparts.

Representatives from major companies like Boeing, the International Air Transport Association (IATA), JP Morgan Chase, United Airlines, World Energy and the American Petroleum Institute were in attendance, underlining the importance of unlocking private investment to help grow the sustainable aviation sector, create more U.K. jobs and grow the economy.

The summit acted as a springboard for discussions on how to overcome future barriers the international sector may face, such as the widespread sourcing of materials to produce next-generation fuels, as well as the investment needed to help deliver that vision.

With airlines spending billions on fuel every year, ensuring SAF is at the forefront of future investment decisions is key to piloting the sector to a cleaner future.

The summit was an opportunity for the U.K. to work with other governments and industry leaders to progress the U.K.’s commitment to at least 10 percent of jet fuel being from sustainable sources by 2030.

The U.K. government’s Jet Zero Strategy sets out how to achieve net-zero emissions from U.K. aviation by 2050, importantly without directly limiting demand for aviation.

The £165 million (USD$205.2 milllion) Advanced Fuel Fund is also kickstarting production, with five projects already chosen to receive funding.

With both the U.S. and U.K. leading the way as global advocates for SAF, the U.K. and U.S. transportation secretaries will look to work even more closely—an opportunity for the two nations to share their experience and work towards growing the SAF industry in both countries.

Working together, both governments will examine how to get SAF plants working at scale and promote the fuel as a solution to tackling climate change and creating jobs and skills for future generations.

With independent forecasts suggesting that there is the potential to create as many as 60,000 jobs and a £10 billion (USD$12.4 billion) boost to the economy, a new collaborative approach will best unlock this.

At the end of last year, the U.K. government announced that Virgin Atlantic has won the race to make the first net-zero transatlantic flight next year—powered by SAF.

This year one of Virgin Atlantic’s flagship Boeing 787s, powered by Rolls-Royce Trent 1000 engines, will take off from London Heathrow and make the journey to New York’s John F. Kennedy Airport—a journey made by thousands of people for business, family and leisure every week.

Made from waste materials or byproducts such as household waste, industrial gases or used cooking oil, SAF can achieve greenhouse-gas emissions savings of more than 70 percent compared to conventional fossil jet fuel.


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